Pringsheim, Klaus , German conductor and composer; b. Feldafing, near Munich, July 24, 1883; d. Tokyo, Dec. 7, 1972. A scion of a highly cultured family, he studied mathematics with his father, a prof. at the Univ. of Munich, and physics with Rontgen, the discoverer of X-rays. His twin sister, Katherine, was married to Thomas Mann. In Munich, Pringsheim took piano lessons with Stavenhagen and composition with Thuille. In 1906 he went to Vienna and was engaged as asst. conductor of the Court Opera, under the tutelage of Mahler, who took him as a pupil in conducting and composition, a relationship that developed into profound friendship. Mahler recommended him to the management of the German Opera in Prague; Pringsheim conducted there from 1909 to 1914; then was engaged as conductor and stage director at the Bremen Opera (1915–18) and music director of the Max Reinhardt theaters in Berlin (1918–25). In 1923–24 he conducted in Berlin a Mahler cycle of 8 concerts, featuring all of Mahler’s syms. and songs with orch. In 1927 he became the music critic of the socialist newspaper Vorwärts. A turning point in Pringsheim’s life came in 1931 with an invitation to teach music at the Imperial Academy of Music in Tokyo, where he taught until 1937; several of his Japanese students became prominent composers. From 1937 to 1939 Pringsheim served as music adviser to the Royal Dept. of Fine Arts in Bangkok, Thailand. In 1939 he returned to Japan; was briefly interned in 1944 as an opponent of the Axis policies. In 1946 he went to Calif.; after some intermittent activities, he returned to Japan in 1951; was appointed director of the Musashino Academy of Music in Tokyo; continued to conduct; also wrote music reviews for English-language Tokyo newspapers. As a composer, Pringsheim followed the neo-Romantic trends, deeply influenced by Mahler. His compositions include a Concerto for Orchestra (Tokyo, Oct. 13, 1935); Yamada Nagasama, Japanese radio opera (1953); Concertino for Xylophone and Orch. (1962); Theme, Variations, and Fugue for Wind Orch. (his last composition, 1971–72); and a curious album of 36 2-part canons for Piano (1959). A chapter from his theoretical work Pythagoras, die Atonalität und wir was publ. in Schweizerische Musikzeitung (1957). His reminiscences, “Mahler, My Friend,” were publ. posthumously in the periodical Composer (1973–74). Pringsheim was a signatory of a letter of protest by surviving friends of Mahler against the film Death in Venice, after a novel of Thomas Mann, in which the central character, a famous writer who suffers a homosexual crisis, was made to resemble Mahler.
—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire